Iran is close to having the potential to build a nuclear weapon, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday, in one of Moscow's toughest statements on the Iranian atomic drive.
"Iran is nearing the possession of the potential which in principle could be used for the creation of a nuclear weapon," Medvedev said at a meeting with Russian diplomats quoted by Russian news agencies.
The statement, which comes after a row with Tehran over Moscow's support of sanctions against the Islamic Republic, is one of the first times the Kremlin has recognized in public that Iran may be moving towards a nuclear weapon.
Russia, traditionally a diplomatic and economic ally of the Islamic Republic, has in the past taken a milder line against Tehran than Western powers but has noticeably hardened its position in recent months.
The United States and major European Union powers suspect that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.
AFP and Reuters contributed to this report